Friday, December 20, 2013

Annual Goodwill dinner for the needy

Wednesday night was the 25th annual goodwill dinner for our neediest neighbors including those homeless and low-income seniors and families. County officials and community members served a holiday feast to more than 450 guests at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad. There also were gifts for the guests, including: toys and hats and mittens for children; fresh fruit and cookies; ice cream; and opportunities for pictures with Santa - all courtesy of local businesses.

The annual dinner tradition was launched by the Hyatt Regency Bethesda along with the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce and the BCC Regional Services Center after a homeless person was found frozen one winter near the back door to the hotel. The event was way to highlight poverty and need in our part of the County.

The event is now sponsored by several community companies and organizations:  Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, Hyatt Regency Bethesda, Bethesda Urban Partnership, Bethesda Cares, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, Five Star Premier Residences of Chevy Chase, NIH-NOAA Recreation and Welfare Association, Montgomery County 2nd District police, Bethesda Volunteer Fire Department, and the B-CC Rescue Squad.  Many other individuals dedicated their time to make the event a success.
County Executive Ike Leggett and Councilmember Nancy Floreen volunteering at the Goodwill Dinner

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bethesda Post Office Mural Coming to the Regional Services Center

                             The mural hanging at the post office. Photo from Bethesda365.com


Artist Robert Gates with a mock-up of the mural

The first floor/plaza level lobby of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services center will be the new home for the historic mural that was on display at the Bethesda Post Office from 1939 until 2012, when the office closed.

The mural depicts a scene at the Bethesda Women's Farmers Market and was painted by Robert Gates with funds from the Works Progress Administration.

The mural's claim to fame is that Eleanor Roosevelt called the sketch of the mural "charming". If the first lady thinks your work of art is charming then you'll certainly get the commission for the project (which Robert Gates got in 1938).

Installation began December 4th and finished on the 6th.. Feel free to come by and check out this beautiful and historically significant mural!




Message From David Falcinelli, District 2 Police Commander

Important Phone Numbers!

NEW PHONE NUMBER FOR THE SECOND DISTRICT: 240-773-6700

NON-EMERGENCY: 301-279-8000

EMERGENCY: 911

Tips to prevent crimes from being committed against you:

Use extreme caution when using sites such as Craigslist to buy/sell items, and consider whether the savings is worth the effort and potential hazard.

Remember that burglars will often try to gain access to a home by entering an unlocked door or window, or finding a spare key left outside.

Some other safety tips to consider:

1.                   Do not have packages delivered to your house if you are not home to receive them. Make arrangements for them to be delivered to a neighbor or pick them up at the shipper’s local office.

2.                   Do not fall prey to phone scams, especially the most recent where someone calls representing themselves as a police officer and tells you to send money or you will be arrested. Another is a call from a utility company threatening to cut off power unless you wire cash immediately. If you are unsure of the legitimacy of caller, check out www.snopes.com or simply ask for their company contact information so you can research their claim before deciding whether to call them back.

3.                   The Montgomery County Police Department does not solicit money, nor am I aware of any legitimate police agency that does. Be wary of phone calls from people representing themselves as law enforcement

4.                   Pedestrian safety is a must. It gets dark early. You may see a car, but the driver probably does not see you. Wear reflective clothing. Cross at marked intersections. Pay attention to your surroundings. For those with school age children, Montgomery County Police in conjunction with Montgomery County Public Schools will be piloting its first set of school bus photo enforcement in January. If you are a driver that passes a school bus with its red lights flashing, you may be receiving a citation in the mail. Remember – you may not pass a school bus with flashing red lights from either direction, even on multi-lane roads, unless the road is divided by a physical barrier and you are on the side opposite from the bus.

5.                   LOCK YOUR CARS!!!! 96 thefts from cars in November which is a 2013 monthly high – 74 of the 96 were unlocked!!!! When you shop, hide your items in the trunk and take them immediately into your home. This is a very prevalent crime this time of year and thieves will generally ignore a locked car with nothing worth stealing visible,  and move on to the unlocked one.

6.                   Don’t forget that hand-held cell phone use while driving is a primary offense. Officers are enforcing this law vigorously. Bluetooth is still permissible.

            Use your eyes, ears, and good judgement. If your suspicious, make the call. All it takes is one call end a crime spree. 


            

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How To Prevent Crime During the Holidays



This is a reminder from the Commander of the 2nd Police District, Dave Falcinelli, about how to prevent crime during the busy holiday season.


As the holidays are quickly approaching, it is important to remember that many criminals view this time of year as an opportunity for them to ply their trade. I ask that each of you once again review the following information and use good common sense and judgment to help prevent you from becoming the victim of a crime.

Shopping

If you are one to brave the malls during the holidays, please remember the following:
1.       Limit the amount of cash you carry and do not readily display it when making purchases.
2.       Place any items purchased in your locked trunk. If you cannot do this, then cover them up with a blanket to deter a break-in.
3.       Remove all gifts and other valuables from your car immediately upon getting home. You may be exhausted but you need to bring them inside to a secured area.
4.       Look for suspicious people in parking garages and call security or the police immediately.

If you let your fingers do the shopping on-line, you still need to take precautions:

1.       Be sure you are shopping at reputable sites. If a deal seems too good to be true, it is probably a scam to get your credit card information.
2.       Arrange for deliveries during times you will be home or leave instructions for the packages to be delivered to a trusted neighbor. Packages that are left unattended on front porches are an invitation to be stolen.

Vacations

Whether you are going away for a week, a weekend or just overnight, you need to make sure that your house appears to be occupied to deter burglars from choosing your home.

1.       Place indoor and outdoor lights/televisions/radios on timers set for different times of the day and night.
2.       Make sure mail and newspaper/mail delivery is cancelled or picked up by a neighbor on a daily basis.
3.       Put gifts away so a burglar looking into your window will see nothing and move on to another house.
4.       Lock your cars and remove all valuables including any garage door openers.
                        5.   Lock the garage door and the door leading from the garage to
                              the house.

Telemarketers/Solicitors

Do not fall prey to scam charities trying to take advantage of your holiday goodwill.

1.        Ask the caller to provide you with their name, address, telephone and tax ID#, so you can call them back if you decide to make a donation.
2.        Do not answer the door if you are not comfortable doing so. Ask the solicitor to display his license or leave literature on the porch for you to review later.
3.        Call the police if you encounter any suspicious people in your neighborhood.

General safety

1.       Cell phone usage during driving is now a primary offense. Please pay attention to the road.
2.       Watch for pedestrians, especially now that we are losing daylight.
3.       Use a designated driver or a taxi if you are celebrating with alcohol.


Be safe and have a happy holiday!

New Public Community Toolkit Wikia




What is a Wikia?

A Wikia is much like a Wikipedia page except it focuses in on one topic. Anyone with a Wikia account may add to the page with the approval of the administrator. Our Community Toolkit Wikia is a How-To guide for creating, managing, and growing a community association. A community association is any group of individuals with similar interests or backgrounds (neighborhood, school, religious group, etc.) who meet regularly to accomplish goals, often lobbying local government to address their specific agenda.

What is the purpose?

To provide information to the general public regarding the implementation and upkeep of community associations as well as allow the public to directly input their own information and experiences. This is a community toolkit for the community to weigh in on. The hope is that the Wikia will grow with time and become a comprehensive guide to community organizations.

How do I contribute?

The first thing to do if you want to contribute is to create a Wikia account. It is completely free and the only information you have to give to create an account is your e-mail address. Once you've created an account, go to the Community Toolkit page and click “Contribute” in the upper right hand corner. It then prompts you to add a new page, video, photo, or edit an existing page.  We encourage you to do any one of these actions but we ask that you look at existing pages before adding any new info to avoid repeating information. Once you've submitted your new page or edits, the administrator (Ken Hartman) will accept or deny the changes.

We hope you enjoy the Wikia and that you will contribute!

Monday, October 7, 2013

New Cell Phone and Seatbelt Laws


News laws regarding Cell Phone and Seatbelt usage are effective October 1st. Here is a brief overview of the changes:

With regard to Cell Phone use:

  • A driver of a vehicle in motion may not use their hands to use a handheld telephone unless it is to initiate or terminate a wireless call or turn off (or on) a handheld phone
  •  The new law is a primary enforcement, which means no other violation other than talking on a cell phone is necessary to pull over the driver and issue a citation
  • The vehicle must be in motion for this law to apply
Fines: 1st Offense- $83, 2nd offense- $140, 3rd offense (and any subsequent)- $160. No points will be accessed to your driver's licence unless cell phone usage contributed to a collision.


With regard to Texting: Don't Do It!

  1. Always a primary enforcement
  2. Vehicle does not have to be in motion (just on a travel portion of the roadway)
  3. Exceptions: GPS or to contact a 9-11 system

Fines: $70.00 for the first and subsequent offenses
The driver is assessed one point for this violation and three points if it contributes to a collision.


With regard to Seatbelt Usage:

All persons
riding in a motor vehicle are now required to be restrained by a seatbelt or a child safety seat (as defined by provisions of the law) and that only the number of persons for which seatbelts are available may be transported in the vehicle.

This law prohibits using a single seatbelt for more than one individual. You cannot have more people in the car than there are seatbelts. No exceptions.

New law requires persons over 16 years of age to be restrained regardless of position in the car. This provision is a secondary enforcement (officers must have another reason to pull you over).

Fine: $83 for first and subsequent offenses.











Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Community Service Day 2013



The 27th annual Montgomery County Community Service Day is almost upon us! On October 26th (and the week leading up to it) there will be numerous volunteer opportunities for any and all to take part in. There is a county wide food drive for the Manna Food Center on the 26th and 27th. Information on that fabulous opportunity can be found here: Help the Hungry Food Drive.

But that's not all! There are 17 other organizations in the B-CC region that you may volunteer for.
Here's the full list with a link to their description:


Put Away Povich Field
 -
Bethesda Big Train Baseball
Video Distribution – Brain Aneurysm Foundation
Twinbrook Stream Clean Up - City of Rockville
After School Snack Pack - Dawson's Market
Fall Frolic - Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture
Office Spruce Up - Hope Connections for Cancer Support
Spend a Day with Group Home Residents – Jewish Federation of Greater Washington
Adult Literacy Tutor Info Session – Literacy Council of Montgomery County
Painting and Yard Work - Mobile Medical Care
Hillmead Park Invasive Weed Removal - Montgomery County Parks
Design Posters – Mover Moms
Lincoln Park Cemetery Clean Up - Mt. Calvary Baptist Church
Baptist Cemetery Clean Up – Peerless Rockville Historic Preservation
Assist at Information FairPotomac Community Resources
Touch Truck Event HelpSuburban Nursery School

Want to plan your own project? No problem! Use this form (Community Service Day Project Form)  to spread the word about your project so others might participate. If you want to develop a group project but don't have an idea of what you want to do (or how to do it)... check out this link: Group Projects page.

For more info about this event check out the Community Service Webpage.

For any additional questions contact Katie Sayago at katie.sayago@montgomerycountymd.gov or 240-777-2608.

Give back to the community you love!



Monday, September 30, 2013

Taste of Bethesda returns Oct. 5

The 24th annual Taste of Bethesda is scheduled for Saturday, October 5, 2013!

More than 50 restaurants and five stages of entertainment will take over the heart of Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle on October 5 for the annual Taste of Bethesda. It’s all happening on Norfolk, Fairmont, St. Elmo, Cordell and Del Ray aves. from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Admission is free. Tickets will be sold onsite to “taste” different foods; tickets are $5 for four tickets and a serving costs one to four tickets.

The event is just three blocks from the Bethesda Metro station. Free parking is also available in downtown Bethesda’s public garages. Visitors can take the free Bethesda Circulator to and from the Bethesda Metro station and public garages.

The festival, produced by the Bethesda Urban Partnership, celebrates 24 years of diverse and delectable cuisine this year.


Participating Restaurants

4935 Bar & Kitchen * The Barking Dog * Benihana

BGR The Burger Joint * BlackFinn American Saloon

Boloco * Brasserie Monte Carlo * Café Deluxe

Chef Tony's * Domino's Pizza * Dunkin' Donuts

Flanagan's Harp & Fiddle * Flaxella Café & Restaurant

Freddy's Lobster * Georgetown Cupcake

Gringos & Mariachis * Haagen-Dazs

Hanaro * Hard Times Cafe * Haven Pizzeria

Himalayan Heritage * Honest Tea * Jaleo * Jetties

Kabob Bazaar * Kadhai * Kraze Burger * Lilit Café

Louisiana Kitchen & Bayou Bar * Luke's Lobster

Mia's Pizzas * Mamma Lucia * Mussel Bar & Grille

Naked Pizza * Olazzo * Original Pancake House * The Parva

Passage to India * Penang Malaysian Cuisine

Quartermaine Coffee Roasters * Rock Bottom Restaurant

Roof Bethesda * Ruth's Chris Steak House * Shangri-La

Share Wine Lounge & Small Plate Bistro * Smoke BBQ

Smoothie King * Spring Mill Bread Co. * Tandoori Nights

Tout de Sweet * Uncle Julio's * Union Jack's British Pub

 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What is the Bethesda Purple Line Station Plan?



What is the plan?

            The Bethesda Purple Line Station Plan addresses the three main transportation issues. The plan includes the design for the westernmost stop on the Purple Line, Bethesda South station, a new south entrance to the Bethesda Red Line Metro station, and finally two proposals on how the Capital Crescent trail would cross Wisconsin Avenue.

There are two MTA station plans. One that works with existing conditions and one that proposes to knock down the old Apex building and build a new one.

Plan with existing conditions:
· Station fits into current curved tunnel with support columns in the middle of the station platform
·Red line entrance located on Elm St. sidewalk
·Capital Crescent trail crosses Wisconsin on street level
· Purple Line ventilation tower and maintenance tracks would be in Woodmont Plaza

Plan with rebuilt Apex building:
·Larger platform with no columns
·Red line entrance located within new building
·Capital Crescent would cross under Wisconsin via a new tunnel and at street level
·New building accommodates space for long-term bike storage

·Contact on the phone: 301-495-2115 (Elza Hisel-McCoy, lead planner)
·Come and speak at the public hearing on November 7th, 2013

Future Deadlines:
·December 31st, 2013 – written commitment to redevelop the Apex building
· December 31st, 2015 - demolition of the Apex Building to allow construction of the
  station to commence with general expected construction of the Purple Line

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Police Civilian Employee Honored

Congratulations to Sedearia Wilson-Jackson who was recognized Tuesday as "Outstanding Civilian Employee" of the Bethesda District Police Station by the B-CC Rotary Club, County Police Chief Tom Manager, and Commander David Falcinelli.

For exceptional service to the public and outstanding support to officers of the station, Ms. Wilson-Jackson received a certificate, a Westfield Montgomery gift card, and had her name inscribed on a plaque on display in the Station lobby.

L-R: Cmdr. David Falcinelli, Chief Tom Manger, Sedearia Wilson-Jackson, RSC Director Ken Hartman, and BCC Rotary Club President George Nash


 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Help collect the "Great 8" for needy families.

The B-CC Regional Services Center is supporting a major drive by local Rotary Clubs and A Wider Circle to supply the "Great 8" to needy families.  According to A Wider Circle, the Great 8 are items needy families request above all other smaller items.  

The Great 8 are: 

1. Pasta; 
2. Beans; 
3. Paper towels and cleaning supplies; 
4. Tissues and Toilet Paper; 
5. Low Sodium, low sugar canned fruit and vegetables; 
6. Laundry detergent; 
7. Cereal/Oatmeal; and 
8. Diapers.

The Rotary Clubs leading this effort are the B-CCMetro Bethesda, and North Bethesda Clubs. 

Community members are also invited to participate in this drive by dropping off any of these items at the B-CC Regional Services Center before September 27.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bethesda Purple Line Station planning meetings scheduled

The Planning Department will hold Open House Previews of Staff Recommendations for the Bethesda Purple Line Station Plan, at the Bethesda Regional Services Center, located at 4805 Edgemoor Lane near the intersection of Woodmont Avenue and Old Georgetown Road. Enter on the plaza level above Chipotle. Each session will include the same information.

The sessions will be held:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 6-9pm

Saturday, September 7, 2013, 10am-2pm

Monday, September 9, 2013, 6-9pm.

Please drop in any time during the Open House to learn more about this limited plan and share your thoughts, questions, and comments with the Planning Department team. Staff will prepare a handout summarizing the recommendations for the Open House sessions and will post it online when it is available.

We look forward to seeing you there.

For more information, questions, or to join the mailing list:

Project email: bethesdapurpleline@montgomeryplanning.org

Website: www.montgomeryplanning.org/bethesda_purple_line

Twitter: @bethesdaPL, #bethesdapurpleline

Facebook: Bethesda Purple Line Station Plan

Phone: 301.495.2115, Elza Hisel-McCoy, Lead Planner

 

 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Village offers public programs

Beginning this fall, Chevy Chase At Home will again offer a monthly discussion group for adult children of aging parents, led by Nathan Billig, MD. The series will run from late September until June. Please call the CC@ H office at 301-657-3115 for details and to sign up.

The popular gentle Pilates classes will continue to be held at the Chevy Chase United Methodist Church, 7001 Connecticut Avenue, on Wednesday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30 AM, and on Friday afternoons from 2:30 to 3:30 PM. There will be a fee per 4-week session of each class, payable in advance at the first class of the session ($40 for members and parishioners and $48 for other participants). There will be no classes held during the week of November 17-23, due to the church’s annual Holiday Bazaar.

On September 12, the Brunch Bunch will get together at the Olympia Coffee Shoppe in the the Brookville Road shopping center from 10 to 11:30 AM. There’s plenty of free parking, so do stop by this informal gathering for coffee and conversation with your neighbors.

“No, You Did Not win the Lottery and Other Attempts to Separate You From Your Money” is the title of attorney Barbara Mulitz’s talk at the M&M on September 17th, from 2 to 4 PM at the Chevy Chase Village Hall. Ms. Mulitz, licensed to practice in Maryland and DC, will speak about a number of legal matters of particular relevance to seniors. Appointed by County Executive Ike Leggett, she currently serves as a Commissioner on the Montgomery County Commission on Aging.

For more information about Chevy Chase at Home and our programs, please visit www.chevychaseathome.org.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Advisory Board to hold biennial Capital Budget Forum on July 30

County Executive Ike Leggett, Office of Management and Budget, and the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board invite you to this opportunity to learn about the Capital Improvements Program (CIP), provide input, and get answers to your questions. The CIP is the County's fiscal plan for construction of facilities and other assets having a relatively long life - i.e. new schools, road work, library rennovations, etc. (See the list of current local projects.)

The forum will be held July 30, 7-9pm, at the BCC Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda.

The forum will help you:

1. Learn about how your County's physical facilities (roads, buildings, etc) are developed.

2. Provide input for projects to be considered in the future and help us set construction and planning priorities.

3. Get answers to your questions directly from various County Departments about any project, the process, time-frames and additional opportunities for community engagement.

For more information, see the 2011 letter from the WMCCAB the section of the County Executive's Recommended FY13-18 CIP which discusses this process.

AGENDA

7:00 – Welcome by WMCCAB Chair, Marc Korman

7:05 – Office of Management & Budget presentation

7:15 - County Executive statement & Q&A

7:55 – Small groups

8:15 – Report out by small groups

8:30 – WMCCAB meeting to debrief and develop CIP priority list

9:00 p.m. Adjournment

Representatives from County departments and agencies will be present: Transportation, General Services, Park & Planning, Public Schools, Recreation and Public Libraries.

 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Council confirms new Advisory Board members

Congratulations to the new members of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board confirmed by the County Council today. They are:

Jordan Cooper is a residential representative from the North Bethesda-Garrett Park Planning Area. Jordan was born and raised in North Bethesda, attended K-12 in MCPS, and currently serves as president of the Luxmanor Citizens Association. Jordan has extensive legislative experience in Annapolis, where he first worked a decade ago. Jordan is a health care professional with experience working on health policy in academic, legislative, clinical, non-profit advocacy, and private sector settings. This work includes the submission of public comments which were subsequently included in final federal regulations pertaining to Health Care Reform. Jordan has a BA in Political Science from Vassar College and a MSPH in Health Policy from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Gordon Smith joins the Board as a residential representative from the Potomac Planning Area. A long-time resident of Montgomery County, Gordon attended Ohio Wesleyan and Harvard Business School and is a former Air Force pilot. Gordon is a founder of Miller and Smith home builders and currently managing director of Elite Energy in Carson City, Nevada. Gordon served on the Board of Ohio Wesleyan and now serves on the endowment committees of Ohio Wesleyan and Wesleyan Theological Seminary in Washington. Gordon is personally involved in significant charitable work in the United States and abroad.

Jon Weintraub is a residential representative from the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Planning Area. A resident of downtown Bethesda, Jon is chair of the Downtown Bethesda Condominium Association and past chair of the Bethesda Urban Partnership Board of Directors. Jon serves on the Bethesda Metro Station Task Force and Woodmont Triangle Action Group. Jon retired from the Federal Government in 2002 with 21 years of service as senior staff in the House of Representatives and at the Department of Education. He served on the Transition Teams for Presidents Clinton and Obama and worked at the National Association of Counties for 12 years where he directed their legislative staff. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer and worked for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee [SNCC] in Dallas and Macon County, Alabama, in the early 1960s.

Jason Yang, a new business representative on the Board, is the founder and director of Digital Studios, a local web design and development company. A resident of Bethesda, Jason is a first generation Asian American born and raised in Montgomery County. Jason attended the University of Maryland.

 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Superintendent Starr to speak at Advisory Board next Monday

The public is invited to attend Monday's (July 15) meeting of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board with County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr.

Dr. Starr is a passionate champion for all students and is committed to ensuring that Montgomery County Public Schools meet the needs of students across the spectrum. At Monday's meeting, Dr. Starr will discuss the state of County public schools and his educational priorities.

The meeting begins at 7pm at the BCC Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda. All are welcome to attend and participate.

Public Safety Update

Dear Residents of the 2nd District:

Congratulations for helping to make the Bethesda area one of the safest places to live according to the Farmer's Insurance and Sperling Best Places Ranking.

CRIME

Over the last year, I have emphasized time and time again about the importance of the members of the community being the eyes and ears of the police department. During the last month, there have been several incidents where you have called us at the right time and allowed us to make one or more arrests. Recently, there have been a group of thieves entering office buildings and stealing laptops and other items. Despite an arrest last month and the closure of several cases, we were still experiencing similar crimes. Last week, an alert occupant of a building on Security Lane called us to report several suspicious people lurking in the building. We responded in force and arrested four suspects from the D.C. and PG areas as they tried to leave. Two nights ago, an alert citizen in Potomac called to report suspicious people trying to enter cars. We again responded and arrested two juveniles who lived in the area. Last night a resident of Chevy Chase called to report two young suspects looking into cars. We were unable to locate them, but that call brought us into the area and probably scared them away. You helped to make these arrests and prevent additional crime. Thank you for the assist!

Another tool for our success is communication - between you and us, as well as between us and other agencies. There have been some residential burglaries along the Western Ave. area on both sides of the line. Recently, DC made an arrest of several suspects due to an alert resident calling in. Our detectives are working with DC detectives to see if the crimes on both sides of the line are linked. Kudos to our partners in DC.

The one big issue that still needs a lot of work is personal crime prevention. Theft from autos remains the #1 crime and the large majority of cases involve unlocked car doors with valuables left in plain sight. Lock your doors even if they are parked in your driveway. Remove all valuable and anything that looks like it could be of value. Call 911 immediately if you see anyone in your neighborhood late at night that does not belong.

TRAFFIC

During the first six months of 2013, there have been 22 fatal traffic collisions in Montgomery County. While none of those have occurred in the 2nd District, we continue to have non-fatal crashes averaging about 100 minor fender-benders and 150 more serious crashes each month. Almost 100% of crashes are preventable and most are the result of simple inattention to the road and traffic. Too many people are still on the phone, texting, changing their music, eating, and doing everything else besides paying attention to their driving. Our traffic squad is doing a lot of everyday enforcement on the major arteries, such as Wisconsin Ave. and Connecticut Ave where many crashes are occurring. Our centralized Traffic Operations Division has conducted a series of pedestrian enforcement operations targeting both drivers who fail to yield, and pedestrians that jaywalk. The red light and speed cameras, although not a fan favorite, are helping to reduce speeds and red light violations. We spend a lot of time investigating crashes and other traffic problems; time that would be better spent increasing the patrols through your neighborhoods. Please pay attention to your driving and be ready to react when another driver does something unsafe.

Think personal safety - Drive with complete focus - Call us immediately when you observe anything suspicious.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Captain Falcinelli
Commander - 2nd District

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Advisory Board supports Rapid Transit concept, requests full consideration of community concerns

The following is text of a June 18, 2013 letter from the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board to the County Executive and County Council regarding Rapid Transit proposals. 


Dear County Executive Leggett and Council President Navarro:

Over the past few years, the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board (WMCCAB) has had several opportunities to learn about and study the proposed countywide transit system, often known as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or Rapid Transit.  On several occasions we have heard from County leaders on the issue, including Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Tom Street, Transit Task Force chair Mark Winston, and, most recently, Larry Cole, who is the lead for the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan.  We have also received feedback from the community, including residents of Chevy Chase West and representatives of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

The WMCCAB supports the broad vision of using Rapid Transit along key transit corridors to hold steady or improve current levels of congestion.  The early Rapid Transit plans were broad and ambitious and should be commended for their long-term vision.  The Planning Board’s current exercise, selecting and phasing specific transit corridors by identifying the necessary right-of-way and recommending station locations, is an important one.  See Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan at 12 (April 2013).  But we also understand that the current plan will not address many of the specific details of BRT that will be necessary for the system to be accepted by the broader community and to thrive and succeed.  Much of that work will be done in future planning documents and will require years of study and attention.
 
Two of the corridors being considered by the Planning Board are within the WMCCAB’s area: MD 355 South and the North Bethesda Transitway.  We understand that these two corridors, along with MD 355 North, are considered the likely first corridors where Rapid Transit will be implemented.    Rapid Transit along the North Bethesda Transitway is particularly important because, unlike Wisconsin Avenue, its current mass transit options are limited to standard buses.  Its connection to White Flint, which will see substantial growth over the next 30 years, also commends it as a key corridor for transit.

WMCCAB believes that the phased approach, providing proof of concept along specific corridors and then adding more, is a sound one.  It is also important that the Rapid Transit system actually built lives up to its promise.  Studies have shown that the more rail-like a Rapid Transit system is, the better the ridership.  See, e.g., U.S. Department of Transportation, Bus Rapid Transit Ridership Analysis (June 2005) available at http://www.nbrti.org/docs/pdf/WestStart_BRT_Ridership_Analysis_Final.pdf (describing the effect of sleek, rail-inspired design on ridership).  The important elements include not just vehicle design, but level platform boarding, easy to use fares paid before boarding, and prioritized or exclusive use of a right of way.

The ambitious, long-term plans for Rapid Transit are important and a focus on the broader goals for the plan is understandable at this stage.  Still, it is important that the County continue to listen to the concerns of specific communities and do everything possible to address the issues those communities raise. 

In our region, residents of Chevy Chase West have been particularly vocal about their concerns over safety and access issues.  Among the concerns is that because ingress and egress to Chevy Chase West is limited to Wisconsin Avenue, removing existing lanes could make turning out of the neighborhood for northbound travel on Wisconsin Avenue impossible. 

Similarly, residents of Friendship Heights have expressed concern that Wisconsin Avenue is already heavily congested and that adding dedicated Rapid Transit lanes would create an unremediable vehicular bottleneck along a route that cannot sustain, or be widened to, accommodate more.  As residents have explained, the Friendship Heights area is a transportation hub with a bus terminal, Metrorail station and taxi stand all in close proximity.  To situate a RT station across from the bus terminal could compete with the existing Red Line trains, Metrobuses and Ride-On buses, while further blocking vehicular traffic and compromising pedestrian and bicycle safety. 
 
The concerns of these communities must be addressed and we appreciate that the Planning Board staff has been engaging with concerned residents on these issues.
 
Rapid Transit corridors are an exciting, long-term plan for our County.  Rapid Transit will require many years of work, substantial funding, and the cooperation of the community for it to succeed.  We thank you for your attention to this letter and look forward to continuing to engage with you on this issue.

Sincerely,

Marc Korman, Chair, Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board

Monday, June 10, 2013

Medical Center/355 Crossing Project public meeting - June 18

The BRAC Integration Committee (BIC) is scheduled to hold a meeting on June 18th at 7 p.m. at the BCC Regional Services Center to deliver brief updates on BRAC-related items. On the agenda is a public presentation by Montgomery County Department of Transportation on the MD 355 Multimodal Crossing Project at the Medical Center Metro Station. The meeting is open to all.

The 355 crossing project, associated with the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC), is fully funded by the Federal government. In December 2011, $90 million from the U.S. Department of Defense was allocated to projects addressing traffic congestion following the move of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to Bethesda.

The MD 355 Crossing Project is a design-build project, which will construct new entrances to the Metro Station and provide safe and efficient Rockville Pike crossing for pedestrians and cyclists. The project will include a bank of deep elevators on the Walter Reed side of Rockville Pike directly to the Metrorail platform, and a shallow pedestrian tunnel connecting Walter Reed to NIH and the Metrobus and carpool transit center on the west side of Rockville Pike.



Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bikeshare Public Meetings scheduled

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will host three public meetings in June on the extension of the Capital Bikeshare program into Montgomery County. Bikesharing allows travelers to rent a bike from on-street stations and drop it off at other stations within the bikeshare network. The meetings will focus on selected urban centers of Montgomery County where bikesharing stations will be installed in late summer 2013.

Information on bikesharing throughout the County will be available at each of the following meetings:

Bikeshare in Bethesda and Friendship Heights: June 24 -- 7 - 9 p.m. Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor La., 2nd Floor, Bethesda;

Bikeshare in Silver Spring and Takoma Park: June 25 -- 7 - 9 p.m. Fire Station 1, 8110 Georgia Avenue, 3rd Floor, Silver Spring; and

Bikeshare in Rockville, Shady Grove and the Life Sciences Center: June 26 -- 7 - 9 p.m. Executive Office Building Lobby Auditorium, 101 Monroe St., Rockville.

At the meetings, residents or employees in the County can learn how the bikeshare system currently works in the District of Columbia, Arlington, and Alexandria and how it will operate in Montgomery County. They will be able to review proposed Bikeshare Station locations in the Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Rockville, Shady Grove and Life Sciences Center neighborhoods.

For information on the public meetings, contact Margie Boumel at 240-777-7170. For more information on Bikeshare in Montgomery County, visit the new Bikeshare website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/bikeshare.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Advisory Board, BRAC Committee advocate for preserving commuter bus service to Bethesda

The following is testimony by Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board member and BRAC Integration Committee chair Ilaya Hopkins at the June 6 MTA Hearing on the Proposed Changes to the ICC commuter bus routes. The Advisory Board officially communicated their position on the topic in a May 31 letter.

My name is Ilaya Hopkins. I am a residential representative on the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board and Chair the Walter Reed BRAC Integration Committee and am here representing those groups. For six years, we have been working on ways to mitigate the traffic impact of BRAC and we believe it is short sighted for the MTA to propose eliminating an important piece of this puzzle – commuter bus routes that travel on the ICC.

Two things will stay the same:

1) Bethesda will be a job growth area

2) Desirable housing (big yard, two car garage, affordable mortgage) will not be easy to find

Not everyone is going to live where they work.

The area in and around Bethesda cannot handle more single occupancy vehicles which is why we have been promoting a wide variety of strategies to mitigate the traffic impact of growth, among them enhanced intersections, an improved metro station, better pedestrian and bike connectivity and promoting public transit useage.

It is true that you are trying to change behaviors and get people out of their cars. That is a hard job and it takes time. At the Walter Reed campus, they too are trying to change behaviors with very limited staff parking and many incentives and information for alternate ways to get to work.

Rather than propose eliminating Route 203 and other important routes, it is important to understand what is not working and try new approaches. In fact, that is what is happening with the ICC. The number of vehicles traveling on the ICC has not yet reached the projections. And yet, rather than propose closing the road to save on maintenance costs, there are actually proposals to reduce the toll to get more people to drive on the roadway.

What are some things the MTA could do? Be creative in thinking about alternatives to eliminating routes.

• Survey employees at Walter Reed and NIH to determine required arrival and departure times and other needs of the target commuting group

• Adjust schedules to accommodate those work shifts

• Examine pick up and drop off locations. Is there adequate parking for those who drive to the station?

• Advertise the route’s availability more widely in Bethesda and Columbia

• Stick with it knowing that it takes time. Even the threat of eliminating routes proves the skeptics right – that public transit is not reliable.

BRAC was implemented in 2011 but the Navy stated publically at that time that its work was not done. The Navy understands that it will take time to adjust commuting patterns and shift behavior as parts of the projects inside and outside the fence are implemented and the workforce grows and changes.

We need that same commitment from our state and the MTA that public transportation options will be available to serve this job center now and into the future. The mission of Walter Reed, the viability of the business community and the quality of life of the residents depends on it.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Build a high performing community workshop

The Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County is holding another workshop on building a high-performing community, this time for members of civic and non-profit organizations in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area. The workshop is on Saturday, June 8, from 10 am to 2 pm at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane, second floor, Bethesda). Free.

High-performing community organizations identify issues and priorities, disseminate information and bring people together to improve the places where they live, work, play and pray.

The workshop is designed as an opportunity for attendees to bring their own experience to the table while networking with others, exchanging ideas and entering into meaningful, results-oriented dialogue.

Anyone interested in attending should RSVP to yonelle@crcmc.org.